Rwanda English Project

The Rwanda English Project is an initiative of Effective School Practices, an Oregon 501(c)3 non-profit formed in 2006. The mission of ESP is to promote and implement research-proven instructional programs and teaching techniques to benefit low income, disadvantaged, and at risk students of any age.

The project started began after directors Donald and Deborah Steely visited Rwanda following work in Kenya where they had been conducting teacher training in Direct Instruction programs on a volunteer basis in tandem with Cindi’s Hope. The pair appreciated the enthusiasm of the country’s residents who, surrounded by English-speaking countries, desperately needed and wanted to learn the language they could become employable in a commerce system shifting from subsistence farming to an international one based on IT, business services, and tourism.

Their work encompasses a variety of endeavors aimed at providing English instruction to the country’s residents through schools, government offices and community organizations. Their efforts began with providing 50 teachers instruction in Direct Instruction Spoken English (DISE) who were then trained to become instructors themselves. This program continues with multiple teacher cohorts who provide instruction in DISE to other teachers and reaches thousands of students. The Steelys have also trained inmates at Embu Women’s Prison and South Sudanese widows whose families were killed and found themselves caring for South Sudanese orphans in Nairobi.

The Engelmann Foundation has provided more than $13,000 in monetary support for the Rwanda English Project. Learn more about the project and upcoming efforts on Rwanda English Project’s website or follow them on Facebook.

Cindi’s Hope

Cindi’s Hope, founded in 2011 by Dr. Cindi Mendoza and Mary Owinyo, is a rescue center established to serve young Kenyan girls who have been physically or sexually abused. The center offers a safe haven where these girls are housed, fed, clothed and educated. Originally serving just 14 girls at one location in 2009, the program has now expanded to two locations in Kenya, serving nearly 200 children. An additional site in the Eastern Province’s Burgesera District of Rwanda has also been established–the first of seven schools to be built in Rwanda over the next five years. The school in Rwanda opened in January 2019 serving 100 students in the primary grades, and as of September 2019, serves 186 students. The children served at the various Cindi’s Hope sites are refugees from many countries, including Ethiopia, Somali, South Sudanese, Rwanda and Kenya. More sites are desperately needed, as the few current schools are beyond capacity at a 64:1 student to teacher ratio. That need is expected to continue, as 47% of the population is under the age of 15 following the 1994 genocide.

The program utilizes Direct Instruction as part of their Pre-unit through class 3 curriculum in order to more efficiently and effectively teach reading, language, and math, despite the fact that most incoming students are not Native English speakers. This programming allows teachers to best assist students who previously had large gaps in their learning and development. 

The grant funds–nearly $50,000 since 2016–have assisted Cindi’s Hope in training Rwandan teachers in Direct Instruction programs–including Direct Instruction for Spoken English (DISE)–in an English speaking environment before sending the teachers back to the sites to teach. “We at Cindi’s Hope are so grateful for the continued support and expertise the Engelmann Foundation has provided over the last 6 years. What a terrific partner in educating children for the next generation! As the schools in Rwanda and Kenya continue to expand, we are excited to be able to train more teachers and students using DI,” says Dr. Mendoza. The foundation is proud to support the work of Dr. Mendoza and her colleagues as she continues to make a profound impact on the children of Kenya and Rwanda.

For more information on Cindi’s Hope, visit their website or follow them on Facebook.